When David fled Saul because King Saul wanted to kill him, he fled to the Kings of Gath. The story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 21. It can be confusing with these unfamiliar names, but in chapter 21 there is the priest Ahimelech who he runs to for food and weapons, in verses 10-15 is the reference for Psalm 34’s beginning. Achish may have been the particular name of the king, while Abimelech (a B instead of the H in the name of the priest) might have been the common title of Kings of Gath (or vice versa) (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achish & www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom08.xl.html). In any case, the change of behavior was that he pretended to be insane so that the Philistines wouldn’t kill him because they had heard of all the Philistines he had killed (verses 11 & 13).
The Psalm itself is an acrostic poem, meaning that in Hebrew each verse begins with a succeeding letter from the alphabet, like Psalm 119. In a time of great stress, when you still want to seek God, it can be nice to have a structure to pray in. David is using this structure during his stress and life threatening situation, and I have done the same thing at night when I can’t sleep. My mom told me to go through the alphabet to think of Godly things, or things I was thankful for.
This Psalm describes David praising Him at all times, seeking the Lord, and recognizing that God hears His people’s cry. The Lord is good, and we should fear Him, for He takes care of us. God is near to those who need Him, who are broken, crushed, and while the righteous suffer a lot, God always delivers and redeems them. These same afflictions will destroy the wicked, because they have no one to save them. God will restore our lives, and none who come to him will be condemned.
David—the Psalmist, Abimelech, the Lord, my soul, us—His saints, those who look to Him/seek Him, this poor man, the angel of the Lord, those who fear him, those who take refuge in him, children, the righteous, the wicked, His servants
Verse 19-22 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
Cross References: And an explanation for how each verse is key to me.
Verse 19 I chose because it is what verse 21 is responding to. The wicked are slain by the afflictions that don’t harm us. The LORD delivers us from death.
2 Timothy 3:10-13 “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Psalm 34: 6, 17, 22 “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles…When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles…The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
Acts 12:11 “When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
Verse 20 This is Jesus. Jesus was killed, but not one of His bones were broken. This verse is prophecy of Jesus Christ.
John 19:36 “For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.””
Verse 21 While we often feel our own afflictions, and feel like we are not being delivered, we believe the Bible. We know the end of the story. The wicked cannot last striving against their afflictions, they will perish. There will be judgment for their pride in thinking we were the fools to run to God.
Psalm 94:23 “He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out.”
Proverbs 24:15-16 “Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
Psalm 7:15-16 “He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.”
Verse 22 We will not be condemned for running to God, he created us for His good purpose, He wants us to run to Him. He redeems our lives. Besides we only have between 0-70 years of suffering here on earth before we get to go to Heaven, so very miniscule a time.
Psalm 25:22 “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”
Romans 8:33-34 “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
We are on the right team. We are God’s people, His servants, who follow Him in trust because He takes care of us. Even though it may not seem like we are being delivered, remember the hope that you have for a future, for fruit, and seek God for that future.
Jesus in the Psalm
“The Lord undergirds his “brokenhearted” saints by readily drawing near to their cries (Ps. 34:17-19). Our Lord’s proximity to and identification with the broken is realized most fully in Christ’s earthly ministry. He entered into our suffering and pain to rescue us from their ultimate claim on our eternities.”*
“Suffering brings believers into communion with the suffering Savior and a paradoxical kind of comfort that is found only in the difficult times of life (2 Cor. 1:5; 2 Tim. 3:11).”*
2 Corinthians 1:5 “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
“With the Lord’s presence surrounding him, even the believer’s body is nourished and his countenance is put at ease (Ps. 34:4-10; Heb. 1:14; 1 Pet. 2:3).”*
Hebrews 1:14 “Are [angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”
1 Peter 2:3 “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
“Ultimate physical healing is guaranteed by the believer’s union with the crucified and resurrected Christ, whose body was preserved by the Father (Ps. 34:20; John 19:36; 1 Cor. 15:20-23).”*
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
Tomorrow: Psalm 35
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.
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